Science & Technology

Indian Bilinguals Humanizing Virtual Assistants

To improve the functionality of Cortana, its voice-powered virtual assistant, Microsoft is turning to bilinguals. Of specific interest is the practice of code switching—when speakers switch back and forth between multiple languages in a single sentence or conversation. Project Mélange, run by Microsoft researchers in India, is studying the...

Competition Launches Arabic Literacy Apps for War-Affected Syrian Children

Antura and the Letters and Feed the Monster, the two winners of the EduApp4Syria innovation competition, were announced today and then released worldwide as open-source Arabic literacy learning games. Both games are available for free download through Google Play and the App Store. The EduApp4Syria competition was launched in January...

Late-Learner Bilinguals Perform Similar to Native Speakers

A new study, titled “Late Bilinguals Are Sensitive to Unique Aspects of Second Language Processing: Evidence from Clitic Pronouns Word-Order” asked whether English speakers who become highly proficient at a late age in Spanish could understand grammatical constructions that are present in Spanish but not in...

Virtual Learning a Reality

ATi Studios has released a virtual reality app for language education to combine the artificial-intelligence technology behind chatbots with speech recognition in virtual reality. Learn Languages VR by Mondly allows people to experience lifelike conversations with virtual characters, in 28 different languages. The new VR application is intended to realize virtual reality’s promise of rich, immersive, and automated educational...

Competition Launches Arabic Literacy Apps for War-Affected Syrian Children

Antura and the Letters and Feed the Monster, the two winners of the EduApp4Syria innovation competition, were announced today and then released worldwide as open-source Arabic literacy learning games. Both games are available for free download through Google Play and the App Store. The EduApp4Syria competition was launched in January 2016 as a challenge to game developers and pedagogical experts...

Poly Aims to Share ALL the World’s Languages

Poly began after a successful Kickstarter campaign last year as an open source, modern software built to share and learn languages in text and video. The project was created by Wikitongues founders and directors Daniel Bogre Udell and Frederico Andrade, who aimed to document and teach every language in the world. Wikitongues began in 2012 when Daniel Bogre Udell...

Speaking of the Ice Age

University of Virginia linguistic anthropologist Mark A. Sicoli and colleagues are applying the latest technology to an ancient mystery: how and when early humans inhabited the New World. New research, which uses “big data” techniques to analyze more than 100 linguistic features, suggests complex patterns of contact and migration among the early peoples who first settled the Americas. The diversity of...

Apple’s Siri Learns Shanghainese in Ongoing Race to Dominate Voice-Assist

Last week we saw the release of Google Assistant, an electronic assistant that follows commands on mobile phones. While these tech super-giants are in a heated competition to close in the voice-assist market, Siri has the advantage of being able to speak 21 languages localized for 36 countries....

Sign-Language Leads to Better Peripheral Vision

A new report in Frontiers in Psychology found that deaf adults who use British Sign Language (BSL) had significantly faster peripheral vision reaction time than non-deaf BSL language interpreters and that the interpreters had faster reaction times than hearing adults who do not speak BSL. What is interesting about deaf individuals is that from having an altered cognitive experience, they...

Language Key to National Identity

A new survey by the Pew Research Center reveals that language is a much more significant factor to national identity than birthplace. According to What It Takes to Truly Be ‘One of Us’, majorities in each of the 14 countries polled say it is very important to speak the native language to be considered a true member of the...